Private Wolverhampton children's home rated inadequate after ‘serious incident’

A private children’s home in Wolverhampton has been rated inadequate by Ofsted inspectors after two children were harmed in a serious safeguarding incident.

The children’s home, which provides care for up to five children with learning and/or physical disabilities,  is operated by private company Aston Children’s Care Limited.

Four children live in the home, run by Aston Children’s Care Limited, according to the Ofsted report. Three children have lived in the home for more than two years and one child recently moved in.

But staff failed to supervise children according to their known risks and vulnerabilities, says the report. Ofsted said a “significant safeguarding incident” had occurred since its previous inspection, with two children being harmed.

No further details have been released about the incident.

The report stated: “The new manager was not in charge when this serious incident occurred. However, they have not applied learning from this incident to prevent the possibility of further incidents occurring due to a lack of staff supervision.”

Critically, the care home is unable to claim it adheres to “safe recruitment” practices, it said.

Ofsted reported that managers are “unable to demonstrate that they know that all the people who work in the home are safe to do so”.

The report noted some staff were caring for two children at once as a result of insufficient staffing. On 13 occasions in April this year, children did not have the required one-to-one staffing in line with their care plans, Ofsted inspectors discovered.

They added the home itself was not a “homely, welcoming and safe environment for children”.

“Though there has been some redecoration of the home, some areas of the home need improving. For example, poorly hung curtains fail to provide one child with privacy in their bedroom," they said.

“One particular area of the home was unclean, with an unpleasant smell. Staff were quick to address this during the inspection once it was raised by the inspector. The garden offers little recreational space for children. The manager has a plan for this to be remodelled soon.”

Since the last inspection, one child has moved out of the home. The report noted the child who moved out “did not experience a well-planned move”.

It stated: “They were not informed of their move until staff took them to their new home. As a result, the child had no time to process the move, pack belongings or say goodbye to children and staff. Consequently, this had a negative impact on the quality of care and experiences they received.”

Inspectors observed the manager and staff “repeatedly misunderstanding” a child and often  “guessing” what the child was trying to tell them.

“They did not use any communication aids or alternative communication methods to help the child’s views, wishes and feelings to be understood,” they added.

Such is the scale of miscommunication in the care home, inspectors noted one manager did not have previous experience working with children with learning disabilities. They discovered a questionnaire devised by the manager did not meet individual learning and communication needs of children.

The home has not had a registered manager since May 2021, according to the Ofsted report, but has appointed three managers. All three have not submitted an application to be registered with Ofsted.

According to Companies Houses, the directors of the company chose not to disclose Aston Children’s Care Limited profits and losses. Government legislation says the company was entitled to exemption from audit as it has both 50 or less employees and assets worth no more than £5.1 million.

It comes as data released by the BBC and the Guardian this week shows the for-profit children’s homes provides 69 per cent of children’s home bed spaces across England, but accounted for 78 per cent of lodged complaints between 2018-21. They also recorded 76 per cent of all serious incidents involving the police last year.

The Observer meanwhile revealed this week more than 100 privately run children’s homes in England that have links to private equity firms are rated as inadequate by Ofsted. Analysis by the Local Government Association has warned that soaring profits in private children’s homes have made social care provision “even more precarious”.

Aston Children’s Care Limited and the Department of Education have been contacted for comment.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News